Appearing in "Dark Dreams"
Synopsis for "Dark Dreams"
As he sleeps, Franklin is dreaming about his parents and his Uncle Ben fighting for their lives. This is not merely a dream, as the three members of the Fantastic Four are actually at the hideout of the Mad Thinker and have accidentally triggered the defenses, while investigating the failed attack on Johnny and Alicia's wedding. With the help of the police, they turn off the defenses. Franklin, casting his dream form, watches from behind some machines, hiding so his parents don't find out as he is aware that his powers frighten his parents. As Reed examines the scene, they find evidence that the Mad Thinker's plan was apparently foiled by the Puppet Master, much to their surprise. As the investigation continues, on the officers accidentally triggers a device that activates the Thinker's army of androids. While the Fantastic Four deal with this new threat, Franklin witnesses as one of the androids sneaks up on his father. Franklin calls out, alerting his father of the danger. Franklin then disappears so his new powers are not discovered. Briefly seeing his son, Reed dispatches the android and looks for the boy, but finds no trace of Franklin anywhere.
Meanwhile, at the prison holding the Mad Thinker, the genius criminal allows the guards to search his room for any technology that might have assisted him in plotting his attacks from the outside. After the guards leave, the Thinker gloats over how they could never find his mental implants that allow him to project his mind into android bodies. With discovery averted, the Thinker then projects his mind into one android at another hideout to continue his plotting against the Fantastic Four with the Wizard. Watching over the security footage of the Fantastic Four's search, they spot the dream form of Franklin Richards. When the Wizard suggests that they exploit the child for their own ends, the Thinker computes that there is no way that they can capture the boy that would not ultimately lead to the child's death. When the Wizard disregards this eventuality, the Thinker -- not willing to kill a child in order to get revenge -- terminates his alliance with the Wizard and sets his android body to self-destruct.
Elsewhere in upstate New York, Johnny and Alicia are enjoying their honeymoon with a hike in the woods. They are unaware that they are being watched by Franklin who has projected his dream form to see how they are doing. When the two begin to get romantic, Franklin decides to depart to give them some privacy. Back at the Four Freedoms Plaza, Reed and the others return home and learn from Wyatt that Franklin is taking a nap in his room. At that moment, Franklin begins focusing on his Uncle Ben. Ben is in his quarters trying to come to terms with his current situation, when he is interrupted by Franklin's dream form who has appeared on his bed. Unaware that this is not physically Franklin, Ben is shocked when the boy asks why he hates everyone. When Ben tries to explain the rather complex situation going on with the Fantastic Four, Franklin's dream form suddenly vanishes.
This is because in Reed's lab, Reed and Sue have hooked Franklin up to a machine to test out this new manifestation of his mutant powers. Franklin wakes up and is terrified, before Reed and Sue can calm him down, Ben enters the room and accuses Reed of treating his son as nothing more than an experiment. This leads to a brief battle between Reed and Ben until Franklin shouts at them to stop. Upset, Franklin asks if he can visit his friend, the Avengers' butler Jarvis at the hospital. Sue consents to the visit and Ben decides to take the boy so he can talk things out with Franklin. However when they get into a cab on the street, it is driven by the Wizard who uses a gas to knock out both Ben and Franklin.
With both of them knocked out, the Wizard takes them back to his lab where he forces Franklin to drink a truth telling serum that forces the boy to divulge the nature of his powers. While the Wizard prepares his ID Machine to brainwash the Thing into his services again, Franklin uses his powers to send his dream form to the Four Freedoms Plaza where he shocks his parents with his new abilities. Franklin is able to tell them where he and the Thing are being held prisoner before being forced to pull himself back.
Back at the Wizard's hideout, the evil mastermind's plan begins to fall apart as the ID Machine no longer has any effect on the Thing and he ambushes his foe. When Ben knocks the Wizard out of the building, Reed and Sue arrive in the Fantasti-Car. When the Wizard threatens the life of Franklin, Sue lashes out, placing an invisible force-field around his head to cut off his supply of oxygen. After the Wizard passes out, they find Franklin but the strain of using his powers causes the boy to black out. When Franklin finally comes to, he is back in his room. He apologizes for his powers, but Reed and Sue assure their son that no matter what sort of powers he has, they will still love him no matter what.
- Reed, Sue and Ben were last seen in Silver Surfer (Vol. 3) #1 where they assisted the Silver Surfer in finally escaping Earth since he was trapped there circa Fantastic Four #50.
- Notably absent from this issue is She-Hulk who has unofficially left the group. She was last seen as a member of the Fantastic Four in Silver Surfer (Vol. 3) #1. He last notable stint with the team during this time occurred in Fantastic Four vs. the X-Men #1–4.
- Franklin's dream powers first began manifesting in Fantastic Four #288, their current expression was first seen in Power Pack #15–17 when Franklin joined the Power Pack. He has kept this current manifestation of his powers a secret up until this point.
- The Mad Thinker, the Wizard and the Puppet Master attempted to crash Johnny's wedding last issue, but this plan failed when the Puppet Master had second thoughts.
- Following his departure here the Mad Thinker is next seen, chronologically, in X-Men: Odd Men Out #1 where he pits his Apocalypse Android against the New Mutants.
- The woman seen here is not the real Alicia Masters but is in reality a Skrull spy named Ljya. This is revealed in Fantastic Four #358.
- Following his brief appearance here, Wyatt is next seen in Sensational She-Hulk in Ceremony #1–2 where he and She-Hulk bring their relationship to a foregone conclusions.
- The helmet that Ben has in his room resembles the one he briefly wore in Fantastic Four #3.
- Franklin asks Ben why he is so mad at everyone on the team. Ben doesn't go into specifics as they are complex for young Franklin. The situation however is this:
- In Fantastic Four #245 Reed had realized that Ben could change back and forth between his human and Thing forms at will, but his belief that Alicia only loved him as the Thing subconsciously prevented Ben from doing so. Reed kept this a secret.
- When most of the Fantastic Four were among those kidnapped by the Beyonder to battle in the first Secret Wars on Battleworld, Ben discovered he could change back and forth and believed it was because of Battleworld itself. He decided to stay there in Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #12.
- Ben remained on Battleworld between Thing #11–22 where he eventually lost his ability to change back into Ben Grimm and returned to Earth.
- When he arrived in Fantastic Four #277 he discovered that Johnny was now in a relationship with "Alicia."
- Finally in Thing #23 the truth of what Reed had known came out and the Thing quit the Fantastic Four.
- Ben ended up joining the Mole Man's society Fantastic Four #296 where still held a grudge against Reed and the Fantastic Four for everything that happened to him. Despite this he grudgingly rejoined the team when they later came looking for him.
- Reed mentions Franklin as a potential "psychic time-bomb," Franklin's powers previously had the potential to go out of control and cause catastrophic damage as was what almost happened way back in Fantastic Four #141.
- Sue mentions Jarvis, the Avengers butler is in the hospital. This is following the events of Avengers #273–277 when Avengers Mansion was attacked by the Masters of Evil. Jarvis was taken prisoner and tortured by the Masters during the events of that story.
- The Wizard's ID Machine was first created in Fantastic Four #41 for the purpose of brainwashing the Thing. The Wizard last attempted to use his machine years earlier in Marvel Super-Heroes #15.
- Ben mentions that the Wizard's ID Machine probably no longer works because he's not the same Thing he used to be. He is vaguely referring to the above mentioned events that led to him becoming more bitter about his membership in the Fantastic Four and his life in general.
- Following his capture here the Wizard resurfaces with a new incarnation of the Frightful Four in Fantastic Four #326.